The Warden left to scout the path we are to take tomorrow morning, so I took the chance to find out what Dermond knew of the Warden. I sat with him by the fire and asked what he knew; he was reticent at first but I persisted and what he told me created more questions than answers. I still trust in the Warden, but no longer believe him to be human.
Dermond recounted how, as a boy he traveled alongside his father. Dermond’s father worked as a courier; ferrying messages from the city to other smaller hamlets. From him he learned how to survive in the wild. How to spot paths through the forests and mountains. How to identify which plants were good to eat and which were poison. His father taught him how to ride, shoot a bow, and fight with the sword.
I can see the sorrow in Dermond’s face as he continues. One night, raiders wearing masks and riding upon great horses. They came from the woods as Dermond and his father made camp. Dermond’s father met the raiders head on, killing one of the raiders and holding several more at bay. Dermond struggled to fight, but only being a boy, the raiders overpowered him. When his father sought to protect him, A raider slashed him across his back and fell.
It was then that a stranger came to their aid. Charging forward, he dispatched the remaining raiders. It was like watching a hero from legend.
It was the Warden.
Just as he looks now, not a hair unchanged. He flew into the raiders and tore them apart. It was all over in less than a minute. The Warden knelt by Dermond’s father. Dermond’s father seemed to recognize him. They had a whispered conversation and then Dermond’s father succumbed to his wounds and died.
The Warden rose and studied Dermond for a time before turning and heading back into the forest. After burying his father that evening, Dermond set off for the castle to finish his father’s task. He has not seen the Warden, or anything as powerful since. He is doubtful that the Warden would recognize or remember him.
After Dermond’s tale, I returned to my tent eager to write. The Warden has not returned but Dermond remains by the fire. I can see his shadow cast upon the canvas wall of my tent. I think he is praying.